Ukraine, a candidate member of the EU, this Friday, February 3, is holding a summit with the participation of European representatives. According to the European Commission, this is “a strong symbol of support for the twenty-seven” “in the face of unjustified aggression” by Russia, which has recently regained its position in the East. “Ukraine is the EU, the EU is Ukraine,” said European Council President Charles Michel, who was on site along with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Anti-aircraft sirens sounded in Kyiv shortly before the start of the Ukraine-EU summit in the Ukrainian capital on Friday (February 3). They then spread throughout the country. European Council President Charles Michel vowed to “support” Ukraine in its quest to join the European Union upon arrival in Kyiv. “We will support you […] every step of your way to the EU,” wrote Charles Michel on Twitter. In parallel, President Zelensky said that “faster arms deliveries will allow Ukraine to return the Donbass.”
Ukraine “worthy” of joining the EU
“I think Ukraine deserves to start EU accession negotiations this year,” President Zelensky said on Thursday, as his country has been an official candidate for EU membership since June 2022. “Our future integration should give energy and motivation to our population to fight obstacles and threats,” he continued. He also believed that international pressure on Russia needed to be further intensified.
On Friday, the Ukrainian president confirmed that his country would not lose “a day” on its path to joining the European Union. The EU, for its part, welcomed Ukraine’s “significant efforts” to apply for membership, but without announcing a timetable, and Kyiv wants to speed up the process. French President Emmanuel Macron warned in May that EU integration could take “decades”.
Frozen assets and sanctions against Russia
In Kyiv, Ursula von der Leyen assured that she was working on new sanctions against Russia by February 24, the first anniversary of the invasion. She did not give details about her intentions for this tenth package, but she believes that the punitive measures taken over the past year have already set the Russian economy back “by a generation.” She also noted that limiting the price of exported Russian oil to $60 per barrel cost Moscow 160 million euros a day.
European Commission President and European Council President Charles Michel also said in a statement that they want to find a way to use Russian assets frozen in Western countries to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine. difficult to implement.
EU and Kyiv agree on a Moscow investigative department for “crimes of aggression”
The European Union and Ukraine agreed on Friday to set up an investigative department in The Hague, a kind of temporary prosecutor’s office to coordinate the gathering of evidence of Russia’s “crime of aggression”. This center is envisaged as an intermediate stage before the creation of a special tribunal for the trial of top Russian officials, at the request of Kyiv. The International Criminal Court (ICC) only has jurisdiction over war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine, but not over Russia’s “crimes of aggression” because Moscow and Kyiv have not signed the Treaty of Rome establishing that jurisdiction.
The crime of aggression is attributed to the highest political and military leaders of the country. The EU supports the creation of a court competent for this type of crime, but its precise form raises difficult legal questions. The European Commission presented two options: a special international court based on a multilateral treaty, or a hybrid court governed by Ukrainian law but composed of international judges. Ukraine needs a special tribunal capable of trying Vladimir Putin on the basis of a UN General Assembly resolution. But some countries, such as Germany, doubt that the creation of such a court will receive sufficient support in the UN, and are in favor of creating a hybrid court.
Berlin allowed its manufacturers to supply tanks Leopard 1
Berlin has authorized its manufacturers to supply Ukraine with the Leopard 1 battle tanks they have in reserve, German government spokesman Steffen Hebestrait said Friday.
The latter did not provide any further details on the number of tanks concerned and the schedule for exports to Ukraine. The Leopard 1 is the forerunner of the Leopard 2, long awaited armored vehicles from Kyiv, which Berlin will supply 14 units from the Bundeswehr.
Ukraine accuses Russia of sex trafficking
Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman on Thursday accused Russians of kidnapping children from his country to fuel sex trafficking. According to Dmitry Lubinets, “Telegram accounts show that Russians are kidnapping Ukrainian children and making sex videos with them,” he wrote on the social network. He published an excerpt from an unidentified Internet messaging service between two people discussing the boy’s involvement in the filming of a child pornography film for several thousand euros, claiming that he was a Ukrainian orphan.
“The Russian Federation is insidiously kidnapping, killing, deporting and raping our children,” he added, without specifying how he achieved this exchange. From the very beginning of the war, Ukraine has accused Russia of kidnapping thousands of children and taking them to territories controlled by Moscow.
The West is divided over the Olympics
Europe and the US have not yet tuned their violins, a year and a half before the 2024 Olympics. Very firm “opposition” to the participation of Russians and Belarusians in the Olympics” in Paris, Sports Minister Kamil Bortnichuk said. He then mentioned the countries of the European Union, the UK and the United States. But the United States on Thursday called for the participation of these athletes under neutral banners.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) also angered Ukraine last week by proposing a roadmap to arrange for the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes under a neutral flag on the condition that they “do not actively support the war in Ukraine.” For now, Ukrainians are threatening to boycott the Paris Games if Russians take part. The respective sports ministers will hold a video conference on this issue on February 10, said Kamil Bortnichuk.